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ADHD is something that affects millions of families. The lack of resources, support, and respect for these people and others with barriers infuriates me. I have lived through it myself and have witnessed those who were less fortunate than I was in my struggle.

One day, my parents and I had just left a parent-teacher conference with my second grade teacher. At the conference, she had expressed some serious concerns about me. According to her, I struggled to follow directions and pay attention. I was frequently shunned and bullied by my classmates. However, my teacher never thought I was a person incapable of achieving difficult goals in life. She never wanted to leave me behind suffering socially and academically. She took time out of her schedule to discuss with my parents what she thought was holding me back. She believed I had ADHD. After a neurologist confirmed her suspicions, my family and I began the long process of attempting to deal with the difficulties it presented.

Over time, I began to conquer what my “disability” had taken from me. I had a lot of financial, parental, and school support. A resource/reading specialist, psychologist, and speech language pathologist were able to help me everyday because of greater government funding of resources for kids with mental disorders (or other severe mental illnesses). Even with medicinal treatments for my ADHD (which greatly improved my focusing ability), it was still a great challenge to be respected by my peers and connect with people. It was not until 5th grade music class when I discovered I could sing. I sang a solo piece asked by my music teacher in front of the class one day. My performance was a huge success, stunning everyone. I was surprised I could sing well, and that people would like me for that. It was the first time I ever connected with my peers in a way that created understanding/respect. Without music education funding, there would have been no music classes for me to overcome my struggles. It is sad that in today's society, the corrupt 1% are robbing opportunities for families with ADHD children to be able to reach their full potential.

Later on that day, my guidance counselor had a meeting with me where she said that I inspired her and other people struggling like me. She wanted me to continue developing my music talents to help me have a normal life and succeed in whatever I wanted to do. She told me I could be anything if I had the drive, focus, discipline, interest, and understanding of the world around me. Music would help me break down my barriers and other people's barriers around me. Sure enough after 5th grade, I dramatically improved my social skills, reading comprehension, concentration, and writing skills.

Over the years, as my interests/strengths in science and music intensified, I expressed an interest in becoming a physician. I really wanted to help others who went through struggles like I did. Therefore, I chose to volunteer at a hospital where there were struggling patients needing company, companionship, and hope. I came to discover that there were patients who were suffering from much worse conditions than I did. They also lacked support in many ways. For example, during my senior year of high school and summer of 2009, I volunteered at a hospital's oncology department close to my hometown. I was doing medical equipment stacking when I saw a nurse in front of a patient’s room yelling repeatedly at the patient to stop touching his IV pack. I was stunned to see such rude behavior from a health care professional. I always thought that people in the medical community knew the value and consequences of words. The patient had been recovering from cancer and happened to be psychotic too. His condition was much worse than my ADHD had ever been. The nurse was having so much trouble trying to care for the patient that I just had to step in. I did not want the patient's feelings to get hurt while he was ailing both physiologically and mentally. The nurse stated that she was having a bad day. I told her I could keep the patient occupied and not focused on his IV pack. She wished me luck.

I simply engaged in a casual conversation with the patient and worked hard to keep him engaged. I always talked gently. The patient focused only on me and stopped touching the IV pack. Within five minutes he was asleep. I was amazed that I was successful (not to mention proud that I had helped both the nurse and the patient). The nurse asked me how I did it. I replied that I just imagined what the patient was feeling and believed that he was a regular human being. Today, there is still a LOT of work to do in hospitals to help people with mental barriers today.

I carried that experience with me when I began volunteering at a hospital close to my undergraduate alma mater. I chose to volunteer in the ER because I wanted to see, first hand, how doctors handle tough situations. It did not take long for me to have that “one life-changing experience” that made me to firmly select medicine as my career. A Guatemalan patient was admitted due to binge drinking. I had just finished cleaning a patient's bed when the chief nurse came up to me and asked, “Do you speak Spanish?” I told her I knew the language well. In March 2010, I had studied abroad as part of a class in Mexico for ten days, where I learned the additional health care burdens/barriers faced by undocumented immigrants in the United States. I could only imagine how they affected those who had ADHD or other mental disorders. The nurse wanted me to help translate. I was shocked that there were no doctors who could speak Spanish in that ER. Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language in the United States. I thought -- without an understanding of Spanish, how would a doctor be able to properly treat a Hispanic patient?

When I saw the patient, I was shocked at how messed up he looked. He also talked in an anxious tone of voice. He probably knew that nobody could speak his language. I got to play the role of doctor for a few minutes. I asked the questions that doctors typically ask – what happened, when did it happen, what are you feeling? I also helped translate for insurance collectors who needed the patient’s personal information. After I helped out the doctor and insurance collectors, I sat down with the patient and talked to him in Spanish. Having suffered through early childhood ADHD myself, I did not want to leave him alone. It is hard when no one understands what is happening to you. Considering that he was my age, it was easy to have a conversation together. I stayed with him until the doctor treated him with medication and discharged him. I gave him something that I never got from people growing up – an attentive ear and a bit of compassion.

Having suffered through and overcome my own barriers, I know that fighting for these people to receive more support and respect is my calling. There are still many more families out there who have less fortunate support, funds, and resources I did. Netroots Nation will allow me to develop my activism skills and empower additional progressives who share my same values and visions to fight for a better world for people with barriers. Also, Netroots Nation will shape me as a future caring, humbling physician who will touch people's lives in a broader scale. I need a scholarship to get there. Also, I got accepted into medical school this year. Therefore, this year is my best year to go, right before medical school starts.

Please vote for me to give me the opportunity to fight for you. Please help get others to vote for me as well. Spread the word. Voting just takes 30 seconds. Thank you.

10:00 PM PT: Tweet, Spread the word on Facebook, share with your friends, families, and everyone else who wants a better world. I really want to win for all of us.

Originally posted to sreeizzle2012 on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 08:39 AM PDT.

Also republished by Maryland Kos, Youth Kos 2.0, Mental Health Awareness, and Community Spotlight.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Republished to Mental Health Awareness nt (8+ / 0-)

    I'd like to start a new meme: "No means no" is a misnomer. It should be "Only 'Yes' means yes." Just because someone doesn't say "No" doesn't mean they've given consent. If she didn't say "Yes", there is no consent.

    by second gen on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 08:50:20 PM PDT

  •  I voted for you a couple of days ago, but now (7+ / 0-)

    I am very happy to have done so after reading your story.
    Never forget that EVERYBODY is equal in the need to get health insurance and the best care possible, no "ifs, buts and wait a moment" stuff. That's all there is to it. And the answer that we will never get this kind of legislation through Congress is simply a no no.

    Despite all the nay-sayers, you have to fight for that. Good luck and I hope you will be able to go to NN2013

  •  Thank you for the insight (5+ / 0-)

    into what makes you the way you are. Very few people I know have the empathy for others that I've seen in conversations with you.

    Shop Liberally this holiday season at Kos Katalog

    by JamieG from Md on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 09:46:05 PM PDT

  •  Congratulations on med school (9+ / 0-)

    Congratulations on your admittance to medical school.  this is a testimony to your hard work and efforts, and you should be proud of your achievement.

    And my condolences on having to put up with medical school (grin).  But believe me when I say: it gets better!

    You have already shown an important quality necessary for the practice of medicine: a feeling of care and respect for the people coming to a hospital.  This quality is not taught in medical schools, and far too many medical doctors cannot maintain this quality of caring under the stresses of the schooling and practice of medicine.

    Your schooling, training, and your jobs will be demanding and stressful.  I hope you can remember one thing through it all: people who are sick in a hospital have it much worse off than anything your teaching and jobs put you through.

    Here's wishing you success and satisfaction.

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 09:02:12 AM PDT

  •  My 9 year old son was just diagnosed (9+ / 0-)

    and we're starting meds and therapy for him.  I've scaled back my job to 75% to take him to appointments and supervise homework daily.  It's not easy taking a pay cut at a time when our medical bills will increase but I am so ever lastingly grateful that we can do it.  I'm increasingly horrified by how few people have that luxury and flexibility and how that impacts the kids.  Thank you for this diary.

    "What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them"

    by ItsJessMe on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 11:25:24 AM PDT

    •  It gets better (7+ / 0-)

      My son was finally diagnosed at age 10. He has the predominantly inattentive form and getting to the bottom of what was going on was a devastating process. Taking him to a pediatric neurologist was the best thing I ever did. Ritalin changed his life and now, several years down the road, he is absolutely thriving and brimming with self confidence.

      One thing his school did after the diagnosis was to put him on a daily report card system for a term. After each class, his teachers marked his progress on remembering to bring his books, his homework, etc. And every night, I had to sign it as well. Combined with the meds, it was a fantastic learning tool.

      Good luck to you and your son! It really does get better with the right intervention.

    •  I would caution parents about ADHD (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JamieG from Md

      it is a terrible thing, but it is over diagnosed. I was diagnosed when I was 10 (who would've guessed a 10 year old would not pay attention and be hyperactive!) and started off on ritalin. My mom stopped giving it to me two weeks later and I haven't taken it since. I graduated college, have a full time job and am in the process of applying for graduate school. Sometimes kids just need to grow into themselves and find what their passionate about.

      Again I want to stress that for people who truly have ADHD it can be awful.

  •  ADHD and The family (13+ / 0-)

    My husband and teenage daughter both have ADD, him inattentive and her combined.  I do not.  My daughter also has a whole bag of co-morbidities, including ODD.

    I, as the "neurotypical"  one in the family was the one who had to  fight for our child and became a parent advocate for other kids in the process. I also taught her to advocate for herself, knowing that once she hit college, she would have to do it for herself.

    CHADD has been a great resource for our family.  Join if you or a family member is ADHD .

    ADHD had defined our lives as a family and it has been a blessing and a curse, as are most things. My daughter, now 19, is socially/emotionally about 15.  So she is old enough to get into trouble and young enough mentally to do so.  

    Also, ADHD is different in girls.  Add fluctuating hormones and their effects every month and you have a real rollercoaster.

    I love it when she says to me "  You dont understand!!!".  She's right- I dont understand what having ADHD is like.  I can only try to help her understand her issues and compensate for them.  I do understand how ADHD effects our entire family and our lives in big and little ways.

    Having tried to do everything right for our daughter, who graduated with honors from high school and has much potential to now watching her flounder and struggle in college due to her ADHD, I commend the author for their success.  Its a hard road.  Keep on trucking:)

  •  You must be WAY younger than I am. (9+ / 0-)

    I have had ADHD all my life but was not diagnosed until an adult. Looking back my grandfather was for sure an Aspie.

    I think when I was diagnosed I had a few days of feeling "Oh, shit, another way I am different and don't fit in".

    But then I read up on all the people who are or have been suspected of having ADHD and most are genius's. I already knew that about myself.

    So I guess I don't see it as a disability or something to struggle through. It's a bit of a gift. I've tried a few drugs that made me think like a normal person and I found that soooo boring.

    I like having 12 thoughts at a time. I think it's all part of the creative genius. I did a lot of behavioral therapy to help me find my keys and such but found I had already developed most of those techniques.

    I have 3 sets of keys, 3 pairs of glasses (1 lives in my car). I keep a screwdriver and scissors and tape in every room. Life is just too short to go about looking for stuff.

    You must have part of that genius if you learned fluent Spanish by being in Mexico for 10 days.

    There is a joke that people with ADHD think that if they need to be somewhere at 10am it means they have to leave at 10am. I was laughing at myself this morning when I realized that for me it means I think I need to get in the shower by 10 am.

    Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature.

    by ZenTrainer on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 06:25:46 PM PDT

    •  ^^! (4+ / 0-)

      add a small flashlight and oven timer (time mgmt:)  to that list, in my place also. :D

    •  Me too--late bloomer (6+ / 0-)

      Thom Hartmann's book The Edison Gene has been so helpful to me.

      His way of seeing ADD is that it is the ADD/ADHD type of person who did well in the hunter role of ancient times. While an ADD person in ancient times would have gone mad with the early farmer job--watching the corn grow, planning for the next crop--he or she was better able to take on the job that involved constant scanning of the environment, watching where one's potential prey--and potential predators--might be, hyper-focusing when required, leaping into action.

      I don't actually work as an ancient hunter, especially since I'm a vegan.

      However, it really helped me to make sense of why we have so many people with different talents.

      It is that positive view of ADD/ADHD that was helpful to me, to see what strengths it brought.

      Like most of us, I live in a farmer-mentality-friendly environment--but I can be a friend to me, the vegan with the ancient hunter brain.

      •  Oh, I forgot Thom Hartmann wrote a lot on this. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ladybug53, True North

        I'm going to have to read this. Thanks!

        Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature.

        by ZenTrainer on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 07:46:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Genes (4+ / 0-)

          Hartmann also pointed out--probably in the same book--that there is a gene associated with risk-taking. People with ADD are more likely to have it.

          He noted that the people who emigrate to other countries in search of better opportunities are more likely to have that gene than the ones who stayed behind.

          Now from what I hear, everybody who works in Hollywood is ADD--so that must mean there are a lot of people with that gene in Tinseltown.

          •  Ha! Risk-taking behavior is in my blood. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JamieG from Md, FishOutofWater

            Was a floor trader on Wall Street. Have sold trucks, cars, timeshares, condos, homes, securities, insurance and anything that doesn't require me to be tied up in an office.

            Was also admitted to MIT but was told I was probably not a good fit because I was so social. Bang! There went my drive to become a nuclear physicist.

            Kindness is the language the blind can see and the deaf can hear. Mark Twain

            by 4Freedom on Wed May 01, 2013 at 08:29:15 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Well, we just know the geniuses is all. (3+ / 0-)
      But then I read up on all the people who are or have been suspected of having ADHD and most are genius's. I already knew that about myself.
      Most of the "historical" ones we know might be geniuses (we know them because of that!) but most people with ADHD do NOT have a high IQ (a slightly higher than average % do) - just as most people do not. I have learned through teaching that being high IQ and ADHD (which I am and which the author sounds like may be as well) is a whole different ball of wax, honestly. It's still hard, but it's much easier than being average or low IQ and having ADHD piled on top of the normal academic and work struggles.

      My ADHD is sometimes a hinderance and sometimes a help. I am actually one of the most organized people I know and always on time because I trained myself well.

  •  My severely ADHD husband went through (8+ / 0-)

    med school/chiropractic college.  He found help with the NYS vocational agency VESID, and because of his diagnosis was able to get extra time on some of the practical exams which were not always given in quiet settings.

    The negatives involved always being forced to go last in the practical exams, and this was a problem because the cadaver parts dried during the exam and were less recognizable and sometimes parts were moved by students who went ahead.  This also identified him to other students as having a "handicapping condition"

    During finals, going last identified him as handicapped to the examiners, who showed reluctance to pass him and made remarks about his inability to practice effectively.

    He was a remarkable chiro, with superb hands and an encyclopedic memory for diagnosis.  The ADHD interfered with his ability to manage a practice on his own, and after he crashed his own, he was able to work for an established practice quite well.

    He passed away from injuries sustained in an automobile accident.  The world lost one heck of a good doctor.

    I hope the school you will be attending has better educational practice when it comes to supporting an ADHD student.  Best of luck to you.

    If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever. &

    by weck on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 06:29:47 PM PDT

  •  thank you. (11+ / 0-)

    i suffered an unbearable childhood
    not remembering a thing
    never finishing anything
    was told repeatedly that i was a failure

    in my mid thirties, about 10 years ago, my mum
    handed me me my elementary school report cards
    there was a pattern:
    "charles would do so much better if he sat still"
    "charles is improving in math, but failing everything else"
    "charles is improving in social studies, but failing everything else"
    "charles would do so much better if he stopped disturbing the other children"

    mind you at this point i had developed a serious addiction to speed
    not because i wanted to be high (like many of the people i was associating with), but because somehow it made me feel "normal"

    one dysfunctional relationship after another
    one lost job after another.... i had no idea how i got to thirty-something alive.

    my psych prescribed meds (amphetamines, ironically) and i felt an instantaneous change... something i had never felt before: i could focus on what i was doing without anxiety.
    i could finish reading a sentence or sit through a movie.

    i never picked up an illegal drug again. ever.

    but part of me is haunted of what could have been.
    what would my life have been if i had gotten help as a child?

    to this day i could't tell you more than the smallest fragments of details of my entire childhood.... it's like it was lost.

    perhaps the most difficult thing to overcome to this day
    is the tape loop in my head that tells me how i'll never finish something... anything.... that i'm a failure.

    it's a constant battle.

    sorry for the vent... i still need to talk about i guess.

    i will vote for you, absolutely, and thanks for sharing and helping.

    every adult is responsible for every child

    by ridemybike on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 08:21:48 PM PDT

    •  Be glad you are haunted by what could have been (7+ / 0-)

      It's worse if you aren't. At least you have some drive to make things better in the present and the future.

      I would very much like to feel that way, but I can't. The reward mechanism in my brain -- the part of your brain that makes you feel good if you accomplish something for yourself, and also the part that governs the effect of many drugs, legal and illegal -- does not function. In the medical alphabet soup bowl, this comes up as RDS, reward deficiency syndrome. It is a powerful disincentive to doing anything at all, since a successful task will not make you feel good, but a failure will still make you feel bad. Instead of being +1 or -1, depending on results, everything is 0 or -1. You can break through this to a certain degree, get started at least, by the use of other incentives -- intellectual curiosity usually works for me -- or hostility -- but everything still ends up feeling empty and a bit sad, at the very best.

      So, the opportunities of the past don't haunt me, because I never saw them as opportunities in the first place. The challenges I rose to simply gave me trouble, even if I met them fully, and now all I really remember clearly is the trouble. Failures sometimes make me relieved, since they at least foreclose the possibility of having worse failures later on. For instance, possibly the high point of my brief and abortive career as an academic was being shortlisted for a job at the University of Chicago, but when I remember it, the only emotion it evokes is relief that I was not hired. I look on events that people say make them proud and happy, graduations for instance, and seriously wonder whether they have been telling the truth or whether it was all some sort of elaborate and incomprehensible joke. I skipped every one of my graduation and award ceremonies, and when I finally attended another person's, a friend, I found the fuss everyone made over it to be very odd. For myself, I didn't even bother to keep the diplomas and certificates they mailed me.

      "They smash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn)

      by sagesource on Wed May 01, 2013 at 12:39:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wow (4+ / 0-)

      That is me exactly

      I quit Flute, guitar, wrestling, football.

      Found theatre in High School.  Loved History and English, got D's and F's in math and science. Spent a semester in Junior College, got an A in my History class and failed everything else.  Spent 4 years in the military and was promoted ahead of my peers.  Got out and finished my degree.  Since I was majoring and studying something I love, Political Science, I was invited to join the honors fraternity in college.

      Started seeing psychiatrist in 2012, who prescribed me Adderall.  I know drugs have a negative reputation, but this one has been a lifesaver.  My reviews have drastically improved at work, and I am being considered for a six figure position.  

      I have accomplished all of this in a year and a half.  Had I had a support network in HS, I could have gone to an Ivy League school.  

    •  my story, ridemybike (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ridemybike, JamieG from Md

      except for the self medicating.

      Amphetamines don't work well for me.

      I always say that on my gravestone they should the oft heard phrase "She never lived up to her potential."

      I hyperfocus and perseverate. You wouldn't believe how badly, how fucked up that is for me. And how fucked up I am even now - this minute.    And in pain.

      I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

      by samddobermann on Thu May 02, 2013 at 02:43:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Currently reading "Far from the Tree". So many (5+ / 0-)

    folks with so many challenges.  The spectrum is a grid and we are all on it somewhere.

    Yes, a little consideration, understanding, and compassion goes a long way towards making everyone's life better.

    And yes, I voted for you.

  •  meeting with school (4+ / 0-)

    Thanks for this diary.  eight months ago I had a foster child placed with me, and it's looking as if she might have a diagnosis of ADHD.  we're meeting with representatives of her middle school tomorrow.  We've had the testing done, I'm hoping they're open to meeting her needs.

  •  I read an article the other day (0+ / 0-)

    linking ADHD to sleep disorders. Might be useful to go to a sleep clinic.

    For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

    by Anne Elk on Wed May 01, 2013 at 04:41:20 PM PDT

  •  Diagnosed as an adult with ADHD (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JamieG from Md

    a few years ago.  I HATE IT. I can't follow through on anything because of it.  I am on leave right now because of it. Well that and I was harassed at work over it, and being a whistleblower.

    "I have to go... There are two gay men knocking on my door asking me if I need any abortions or marijuana. Diary, this may be my last entry" Facebook hysteria after 2012 election

    by pitbullgirl65 on Wed May 01, 2013 at 04:54:56 PM PDT

  •  ADHD scam! (0+ / 0-)

    ADHD scam, is it the worst one ever?
    Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder= a typical (especially boys) child…
    But if you take this typical child and plug it into the hyper multi media for hours on end what do you get? Duh! So the cure is the Mass Drugging of Schoolchildren with powerful drugs Ritalin is chemically almost identical to cocaine, Adderall is a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine.
    If you wonder why they become street drugs maybe you’ve got ADHD…

    Love Me, I'm a Liberal!

    by simplesiemon on Wed May 01, 2013 at 05:25:19 PM PDT

  •  Your hospital is frighteningly (0+ / 0-)

    behind the times.

    Every hospital and ER can have a translator on call 24/7 for almost every language.

    There is a service where you can dial in for a translator for any language — set up for health care facilities. There is an obligation by law to have translators available to patients. It is very low cost. Please alert them to that.

    You handled it very well but you don't cover 24/7.

    I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

    by samddobermann on Thu May 02, 2013 at 03:23:56 PM PDT

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